Why Treat Gum Disease?
Gum disease is one of the most serious oral health problems you can experience. Left untreated, gum disease can have serious consequences for your oral and overall health. Here are some problems that untreated gum disease can contribute to.
Loose, Drifting Teeth
In gum disease, the oral bacteria attack the bones and gum tissue around your teeth. This will loosen your teeth. Even healthy teeth allow a small amount of movement, but if you can actually wiggle a tooth, it’s in danger. Loose teeth are also more likely to drift, becoming crooked, rotated, and tilted.
Gum disease can expose the roots of your teeth, which are not well insulated against temperature change. This makes your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold air and liquids.
Receding Gums and Root Cavities
Oral bacteria can damage your gums, causing them to recede. As they do, they expose more of your teeth, including the tooth roots. If your teeth look like they’re getting longer, you’re probably experiencing receding gums.
Your tooth roots are more vulnerable to cavities than tooth crowns. Plus, it can be harder to restore root cavities in teeth. This is a short path to tooth loss.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the US. Gum disease can damage the bones and gums around your teeth until your tooth falls out. Sometimes your own immune system aggressively attacks the bones and ligaments around the tooth to try to eliminate the infection. Other times, root cavities can make a tooth impossible to restore, forcing your dentist to extract it.
People with diabetes are at an elevated risk for gum disease. However, people with gum disease can have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels. This leads to a vicious cycle where these two health conditions worsen each other, with serious consequences.
The effects of gum disease go far beyond your mouth. People with gum disease are at an elevated risk for heart disease. Oral bacteria can infect your heart directly or contribute to the clogging of arteries around your heart. This can cut off the blood supply to the heart, causing a heart attack.
Arterial buildup linked to oral bacteria can break off and travel to the brain, blocking the brain’s blood supply. This can lead to rapid and irreversible brain damage.
Breathing can transport oral bacteria into your lungs, where they can develop into serious lung infections, including pneumonia.
Gum disease during pregnancy can increase your risk of pregnancy complications such as premature birth and low birth weight.
Oral bacteria have many strategies to subvert and confuse your immune system. A prolonged oral infection can cause your immune system to attack your body. The most common disorder associated with gum disease is rheumatoid arthritis, where your immune system attacks your joints.
Waste products from oral bacteria can accumulate in the brain. These waste products are common in people with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, research suggests that people with severe gum disease are more likely to develop dementia at a younger age than those with healthy gums.
How Can Gum Disease Be Treated?
To determine the best way to treat your periodontitis, your periodontist will start by conducting a comprehensive periodontal exam. During these checkups, your doctor will carefully evaluate the health of your teeth, gums, and oral tissues and inspect things like your bite. Periodontal probes will be used to check the depth of your gingival pockets and diagnostic tools like X-rays will be used to look for underlying infections. After your periodontist understands your level of dental health, one or more of these treatments may be recommended.
At-Home Dental Care Changes
Your periodontist may recommend at-home dental hygiene changes, such as more frequent or in-depth brushing or flossing. Most cases of early gingivitis can be reversed through more careful oral hygiene regimens.
Tray Delivery Systems
Medications such as antibiotics can be used to control gingivitis, which is why your periodontist might recommend a tray delivery system. After a custom tray is made for your smile, you may be instructed to wear the trays with a special solution. Some patients can also benefit from antibacterial mouthwashes used in conjunction with normal dental hygiene routines.
Hardened calculus deposits (tartar) can shelter oral bacteria. This allows them to thrive below the gum line. Gum debridement removes these hard deposits to make it easier for your body to combat oral bacteria.
Scaling and Root Planing
To keep bacteria from accumulating on the teeth or within the gingival pockets, your periodontist might recommend a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and planing. During scaling and planing, the surfaces of the teeth are cleaned above and below the gum line, and the area is smoothed to eliminate pitting.
Gum disease can badly damage the bones around your teeth, leaving insufficient bone for tooth support. Osseous surgery cleans bacteria from your jawbone, then reshapes the bone to better support your teeth and resist further damage. It may be combined with bone graft, soft tissue graft, or guided tissue regeneration to ensure you have healthy bone to support your teeth.
Gum & Soft Tissue Graft
A soft tissue graft seeks to regrow your periodontal structure using material from elsewhere in the mouth. This may be the entire gum structure or connective tissue that can help secure the gums and teeth while encouraging the regrowth of gum tissue. This may sometimes employ guided tissue regeneration.
Sometimes, gum disease has so badly damaged your bone that you don’t have enough bone to support your teeth. A bone graft takes bone material from a donor (which may be you, another person, an animal, or an artificial source), then uses it to rebuild your natural bone. This might be done to preserve a tooth or prepare a site for dental implants after tooth extraction.
Sometimes a tooth cannot be saved or saving it would jeopardize your health and other teeth. In these cases, tooth extraction can start your mouth on the path to recovery from gum disease. We’ll talk to you about tooth replacement options before your extraction.
Get Gum Disease Treatment in Westchester County
If you suspect you are struggling with gum disease, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our periodontists by calling (914) 725-7100 today! We can evaluate the health of your gums and recommend the treatment option or options that will be best for you.